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INFOTECH: Digital Process Creates Competitive Differentiation for MTN


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In the tough cellular telecommunications market, speed of delivery and customer satisfaction are of paramount importance. In a digital world, paper-based processes in which time and accuracy are compromised are no match for automated, process-driven systems. That’s what South African cellular colossus MTN sought when it engaged with Global 360 to replace error-prone contract processing which involved mountains of paper, with an automated, digitised system.

Prior to Global 360’s intervention, the company was having difficulty in processing applications fast enough under the weight of a paper-based system, says Jayesh Hargovan, Microsoft domain expert at the MTN Innovation Centre in Johannesburg.

“Through a dealer network, MTN acquires a significant amount of applications for ‘post-paid’ cellular contracts daily. Each application naturally requires the completion of a credit vetting process before the contract is approved or declined,” he says.

“Since the process was so paper-intensive, with the exchange of various documents by fax, it became difficult to control. Dealing with piles of papers, often with duplicate or missing information, led to slow turnaround times. Also, it meant the cost of the process was high, as it required the involvement of substantial human resources,” Hargovan explains.

Customers, he points out, are keen to get their contract approved so they can receive their handset and access the services provided by MTN. “With this cumbersome process, the effect on customer service was the opposite of what was sought.”

More than that, Hargovan says that the company’s goals included eliminating reams of wasted paper, improving information access and control, and processing applications faster.

“It was clear to us from the outset that a process solution would be beneficial to MTN,” says Tim Stanley, Global 360 sales director. “However, the nature of their business meant that the issue became more complex, thanks to the supporting work required around their credit vetting process.”

That, Stanley explains, required flexibility in the process solution which would allow for processes to ‘branch off’ in various directions depending on the tasks that had to be completed. “This solution includes imaging software, automated routing and automated capture of work. It enables the digital management of virtually all aspects of application processing, using imaging and centralised information storing. “In other words, we eliminated the need for fax machines and the attendant mountain of paperwork. Instead, electronic fax imaging means that all the relevant information can now be digitally imported into the Quality Assurance vetting department,” he says.

Hargovan points out that this speeds up the entire process, as it ensures that information is correct before applications are approved. Also, dealers are immediately notified by SMS if there is any information missing from the application. Similarly, confirmation of acceptance of valid applications is sent via SMS.

Deploying automated workflow has had benefits across the supply chain, Hargovan notes. “MTN gets more customers on board faster; quicker approvals for the dealers mean money in their pockets sooner; and the end customer gets their contract activated quicker,” he says.

MTN can also identify reasons for rejections and advise dealers, enabling them to avoid such issues before submitting contracts for approval. “The solution has also reduced risk, by identifying and closing those loopholes which otherwise may have allowed approval of non-qualifying applications,” Hargovan adds.

Stanley points out that an additional benefit is that the system allows MTN management to assess and track the performance of workers conducting the credit vetting process. “Now, information such as the number of applications processed and the accuracy with which they are processed is readily available,” he says.

“By reducing the need for paper-based communications and empowering employees to deliver increased service levels, the traceable, digitised system has completely changed the way work gets done,” adds Stanley.

Hargovan agrees: “Missing or incomplete paperwork is a thing of the past. Most importantly, our ability to track and trace, and therefore turn applications around predictably and quickly, has become a true differentiator in this highly competitive market space.”


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